Burns Violin Brings Sound of Scotland to America
An historic violin with links to Robert Burns is being taken on a tour of the US in January 2020, as part of celebrations for the Scottish poet’s birthday.
The 18th-century instrument is part of the National Trust for Scotland’s collection of more than 5,000 artifacts preserved by the conservation charity at its Robert Burns Birthplace Museum in Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland.
The violin will be touring the United States as part of a partnership between the Scottish government, the National Trust for Scotland, and The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA, a US-based non-profit that encourages Americans to preserve Scottish cultural heritage for future generations. Featured in a series of Burns Night celebrations across the US, the violin will be accompanied by acclaimed Scottish violinist Alistair McCulloch, who will perform a program of Burns and Burns-inspired compositions.
David Hopes, the National Trust for Scotland’s head of collections and interiors, said:
The violin is one of the jewels of our Burns collection and hearing it being played, as Burns himself did, is very special. For any Burns lover, and we know there are many in the States, this will make for a very memorable Burns Night, and a moving celebration of Scotland’s heritage.
Owned by William Gregg of Tarbolton, Ayrshire, Scotland, the violin was used to accompany dance lessons at the town’s Bachelor’s Club. The sessions were attended by Robert Burns, who wrote that he hoped dancing would “Give my manners a brush.” More likely, he realized that dancing lessons were an excellent form of rebellion, as his father frowned upon such sinful behavior.
The violin’s American tour begins on January 16 in New York City. From there, it will travel to Chicago for a collaboration with internationally-renowned violinist Rachel Barton Pine before moving on to Boston for a series of events celebrating the American foundation’s 20th anniversary. It then visits the west coast for an event hosted by BAFTA LA. The final stops are Washington, DC, and back to Chicago, where the violin will be performed in front of residents of the Caledonian Home.
The National Trust for Scotland Foundation USA’s Boston-based Executive Director Kirstin Bridier said:
For more than two decades, NTSUSA has helped Americans from across the country to preserve Robert Burns’s legacy in Scotland. We are delighted to bring this violin – once part of the poet’s daily life – to the US as a tangible reminder of what has been accomplished and the strong connection between our two countries.